Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ireland, Day 4: In the Burren

On Thursday morning we said good-bye to Roundstone and the Twelve Bens and began our journey south. I hated to leave this beautiful part of Ireland. I cannot explain the pull of the wild bog country, the rocks and mountains and water, but it was very like the way Cornwall grabbed me last year. Such beauty!

We saw many of these currachs in use and many like this one, filled with flowers. Once covered with sealskin or other animal skin as waterproofing, today canvas and tar are the usual covering. The boats are quite small, and it chills my bones to think of going out into the ocean in one.

Quaint towns are the order of the day in Ireland, as are brightly painted buildings. I wish our American towns looked like this! Parking was interesting, though. As in England, people just parked, even if it blocked a lane. No one seemed to mind.

And Emo gas?? Actually, I think it was the name of the company, but pretty funny to an American who is used to the word signifying someone who reacts strongly emotionally.

And there is the Burren. See that rocky hill behind the cottage? The Burren is a type of landscape called karst; it splits, with deep fissures into which seeds might fall and plants sprout to live a difficult life. It is a wild place, strangely beautiful.

I snapped this picture as we passed ("Oh look, a ruined castle!") 

 and since there were no other cars on the road Larry stopped to let me take a better one. I had no idea at the time that this was the castle of Mary Rua, or Red Mary, the woman reputed to have had 12 husbands! Her methods of getting shut of them ranged from making them ride off the Cliffs of Moher to poisoning.

In the austere landscape of the Burren, we were astounded to come upon a perfumery. It was miles from anywhere. down a very narrow road through rocks and scrubby growth. But when we got there, it was a charming place, and even had a tearoom. We weren't hungry so didn't go in.

In the perfumery itself. All the products are handmade here,and although my allergies went on high alert at the strong scents, It was fascinating. I came away with a jar of lavender and lemon day face cream, and I am telling you, it's wonderful. I will mail order more when it runs out, it's that nice.

The clerk in the photo was kind enough to give us directions to two places we wanted to see: Father Ted's house, and a portal tomb. If you don't know Father Ted you've missed one of the very best Irish comedy series offered by the BBC. I learned about the series last time I was in Ireland and ordered it from Amazon, and we've watched it several times over.

So this is the road to Father Ted's,or to the house used in filming anyway. It was a long way back in the hills, with no directions of any kind except what the perfumery clerk gave us.

And then there it was, just like it looks in the TV show. It is a private residence today, and there is no sign to tell you its story. We stayed on the road to take photos. I heard that the family will make tea for visitors by appointment, but we didn't want to do that--we just wanted to see the house. The series supposedly takes place in the Aran Islands, so it was a surprise to find the house is actually in the Burren.

Behind the house are these large, amazing rocks.

I zoomed in for the above picture, but this is what it actually looks like from the road.

Another funny sign--X-PO on a small cottage. Does it mean they were once poor but aren't any more?

Next stop was the portal tomb, also with sketchy directions.

My photo of the rock field around the tomb came out oddly bright, considering there was a light mist falling.

 It was getting late and we still had places to see before our day was over, so we left the Burren and drove on. Because not too far from us was Lisdoonvarna, and the Matchmaking Festival.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

To someone from the Appalachians I suppose any landscape without trees would be something of a novelty. The Burren is famous for its wild flowers in springtime with many rare plants growing in this specialised habitat, especially in the cracks in the rock. The rock is actually limestone and it dissolves, very slowly, in rainwater. The water finds the lines of weakness in the rock causing it to form blocks (known as clints) divided by cracks called grykes. "Karst" is a name for the type of scenery rather than the rock itself and takes its from an area in Slovenia that has the same rock.

Granny Sue said...

Yes, very like some places here in WV--the Dolly Sods is a good example. Still for plants to gain a footing there is not easy, given the strong winds (as in Dolly Sods) and lack of soil. And yet they do, which is amazing. I have photos, I think, of some of the plants we saw there. It's a lovely place to my mind. So wild, and a strong example of nature's power and variety. I hope to go back again.

I edited the post re karst! Thanks for that correction :)

On the tour Theresa and I took through the Burren in 2015, the guide said that people would plant potatoes in the cracks in the rock; the English thought the place uninhabitable and impossible for food production, but the Irish managed to grow their potatoes anyway. They stuffed seaweed into the cracks to provide some fertilizer for the plants.

hart said...

I have read about The Burren, wonderful to see it, less barren than I'd imagined. You guys were brave to drive and parallel park even!

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